The family of a soldier from Somerset who died in Afghanistan have paid tribute to their "guardian angel and hero".
Captain James Townley from Glastonbury, served with the Corps of Royal Engineers, died on Friday in Helmand Province from wounds sustained in a shooting incident not thought to be the result of hostile action. It was the day before his 30th birthday.
His family say he was a wonderful, loving, caring son and brother who touched every part of their lives.
Captain Townley was born in Tunbridge Wells, and grew up near Glastonbury, going to school in the local area.
He leaves behind his parents Peter and Jacqui, his brother Nick, and girlfriend Helen.
– James's family
James was a wonderful, loving and caring son and brother. He was devoted to his girlfriend Helen. He was our guardian angel and our hero. We were so proud of him. He touched every part of our lives and his loss has left a huge chasm that we can never fill.
James will never be forgotten and always in our hearts and thoughts.
– Philip Hammond, Defence Secretary
I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Captain Townley.
I understand that he was an immensely talented and intelligent officer with a flourishing military career who was dedicated to supporting those around him.
My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.
– Lieutenant Colonel Chas Story, Commanding Officer, 28 Engineer Regiment
James was an exceptional officer, a great character and unbelievably clever.
The Regiment is devastated that such a bright light has gone out – everyone knew him and it was impossible not to be drawn in by his passion and humour.
He was on his third tour of Afghanistan and a volunteer for all three. He joined to be a soldier and he was determined to make the most of all the opportunities he could.
The Regiment will be a poorer place without James.
– Major Spence McComb, Officer Commanding, 42 Field Squadron, 28 Engineer Regiment
Captain James ‘JT’ Townley was a star within 28 Engineer Regiment, having served with us for the last four years.
An exceptionally intelligent young officer with notably sharp analytical and planning skills, his military career was flourishing.
Nothing was too much for JT, he would always be on hand to help out his fellow officers or soldiers, he would never put himself first, and he was someone who could be relied on.
He was held in immensely high regard by his brother officers with whom he had some very strong bonds; all his soldiers looked up to him.
We all enjoyed his witty banter and respected his sense of duty - he will be very sorely missed.”